This month, the Mama Bear we are highlighting is Monica-Niki Fox Elenbaas! She is a thoughtful and compassionate mother. We are so thankful that she shared her Mama Bears experience with us. We are excited for you to learn more about her!
Why did you originally join the Mama Bears online group?
Throughout my adult life, I have sought resources that help church members and communities be more inclusive. This became more urgent when our firstborn, Dina Clare, came into her authenticity as bisexual in 2000, her senior year of college.
I heard about the Mama Bears resources through the “Believe Out Loud” e-newsletter in 2017 and immediately joined.
How has Mama Bears positively impacted your life?
When I joined the group, there were about 1,500 Mama Bears. Previously I had been without a solid group of supportive moms who understood what I was going through. I especially needed insights for handling some family members’ rejection of my firstborn and her partner of 22 years (now wife). My husband and I and our son have also been judged harshly by my parents for accepting Dina Clare and Desiree.
For so long I had been managing my maternal emotions, as well as evolving spirituality, largely alone. I cherish how the Mama Bears groups create wonderful communities of women at different stages in the journey of supporting our expansively diverse children of God.
What does it mean to you to be a Mama Bear?
Being a Mama Bear means that I can be more effective as an advocate for change, both for individual Mama Bears and society as a whole. I especially love how Liz Dyer established the Mama Bears letter campaign. It has been very meaningful to sign her eloquent letters that have encouraged so many amazing people over the years–such as the Schitts Creek “family.”
Also, as an “elder” Mama Bear, I not only have gained by learning from the experiences of others—but I discovered how my family’s personal journey (such as Dina Clare’s graduation, engagement, marriage, and anniversaries) could inspire other Mama Bears.
What compelled you to join the Mama Bears Giving Circle?
My husband and I had planned to retire early and travel the world on a boat since we were in university. That dream came true in 2016 when we sailed away on svGrateful full-time. Because we live on a fixed income, I am very choosy about which causes to support. The collective impact of the Mama Bears Giving Circle fits perfectly for me.
Did any of the nonprofits in the giving circle specifically stand out to you? If so, which one?
All of the organizations are very inspiring! In my nonprofit youth and family services career, I led projects that partnered with Trevor Project and GLSEN, so I was very familiar with their effectiveness.
Gender Spectrum was new to me–I thoroughly appreciated their approach to affecting institutional change. I had worked on the establishment of the YMCA’s first LGBTQIA+ employee resource group in 2010, so I really appreciated how valuable Gender Spectrum’s comprehensive resources must be for organizational improvement efforts.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Mama Bears community?
I want to send a shout-out to Liz Dyer and all the group administrators who keep the multiple pages in the Real Mama Bears Universe so safe and welcoming.
Share your story!
If you or a Mama Bear you know is interested in being our Spotlight Mama of the month, we would love to connect! Please note that Spotlight Mamas may be anonymous if this makes the person sharing their story more comfortable. It is important to us that we honor the privacy of those in our community. To get involved please email Juliana Jordan at email@example.com. We appreciate you sharing your journeys with us!